It's the end of February and right about now everyone in the Northeast has had enough. Enough! The snow, the ice, the winds, the jackets that by this point reek ... we need winter to go away. Thankfully, there's something that gives us hope: spring training. I can smell the cut grass and grapefruits from here.
I'm a baseball fan in that I like being outdoors, eating hot dogs, and drinking beers. I go to the games more for the snacks and the sun than for watching the sport, but I know the rules and casually follow the Nats and the Mets.
But every year spring training gets me jazzed up, and it's currently in full swing. Pre-season baseball means that summer is just around the corner ... so time to celebrate! Don't know much about spring training? Here's all you need to know:
- There are two leagues, the Grapefruit League in Florida and the Cactus League in Arizona. There are 15 teams that train in each state and play exhibition games against one another. You know, to warm up for the season.
- Spring training started in the 1800s and became a formal institution by 1910. The ritual has lifted Northern baseball fans' spirits for the last hundred years.
- Stats are recorded during the spring training games, but don't count toward regular season stats, nor records. So if a guy pitches 10 no-hitters in pre-season, sorry, no MLB record.
- Each team plays about 28 games in training, and will sometimes play college teams.
- Last year, the San Francisco Giants came in first in the Cactus league, and the Tampa Bay Rays won the Grapefruit League. Both teams went on to finish first in their regular season division, and the Giants won the World Series. Coincidence?
Man, am I happy spring training is here, and that opening day, and therefore warm weather, is not too far way. Godspeed, boys of summer!
Any fond spring training memories?
Photo via bryce_edwards/Flickr